When I was starting my career, I remember my main focus was just wanting to find a place to work. Work perks, so to speak, were not at the forefront of my mind. But that’s something that’s shifting.

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Big Ideas

The Trend to Put Employees’ Interests First

When I was starting my career, I remember my main focus was just wanting to find a place to work. Work perks, so to speak, were not at the forefront of my mind. But that’s something that’s shifting.

As firm managers, we often hear a lot about innovation. It’s no secret that to attract and maintain the best lawyers and staff, firms need to innovate — it’s no longer one-size-fits-all when it comes to things like training, reviews and benefits.

In this month’s cover story, “Trending Resources: 8 Progressive HR Practices for the Modern Law Firm,” writer and attorney Mary Kate Sheridan explores some of the movements within the legal industry to help firms compete for top talent. While work-life balance is cited as priority for many, firms are looking beyond that and getting creative.

For example, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP offers in-house career coaching where employees can confidentially discuss their career trajectory. Winston & Strawn LLP takes a holistic approach that includes a development framework based on established core competencies. They also offer a gender-neutral parental leave program that provides a transition period for when parents return to work.

These are just some examples of what firms are doing to attract and keep their talent. And such benefits are increasingly no longer optional for firms that wish to remain competitive.

And it’s not just for lawyers. Pillsbury’s own gender-neutral parental leave program is also role-neutral and open to all employees. Meanwhile, Baker McKenzie offers training tools for non-attorneys in a variety of areas, including leadership and writing skills; they publish a regular newsletter that keeps staff apprised of available opportunities.

You don’t have to be a large firm to make progressive changes happen. For example, Clark Partington, where I work, has formed an employee-central Communications and Engagement Team that finds innovative ways to connect and involve all employees in firm activities.

Blalock Walters is a medium-sized firm with two offices in Florida. They’ve branded their imitative the BeWell program, and it focuses on five areas of employee well-being: community, social, career, financial and physical. The program’s mission is to encourage employees’ personal and professional productivity and physical and mental well-being by fostering a worksite culture that supports anyone’s voluntary desire to make healthy lifestyle choices.

These are just some examples of what firms are doing to attract and keep their talent. And such benefits are increasingly no longer optional for firms that wish to remain competitive. Plus, it’s not just employees who benefit from a more flexible, forward-thinking work environment; it's good for business, too. Research continues to show that these arrangements make for happier, healthier employees who are less likely to be searching for a new job.

So I invite you to read more about what some firms are doing in this area, and then ask yourself if any of these policies can be adopted in your offices. The profession is changing, and this is one way that we can keep up.

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